She told me this would happen. At sixty-eight years old, my mom, Flossie, hit the nail on the head, yet again.

She was right about Andy, Marc, James, Julian, Miguel, and now Todd. I should have stuck with serial monogamy. That seemed to hurt less.

I knew it was coming but seeing Todd’s photo in The Capital Paper yesterday, cosseting a certain female named Barbie Joe caused a pain in my chest that I didn’t think possible. Todd may as well have hung me upside down on a cross, cut my heart out and BBQ’d it for his new anatomically correct and (somewhat) well-bred subdeb. I was done.

I’ve heard that the mountain people of Peru say “my lungs hurt” instead of “my heart is broken”. Perhaps their take on the physical feel of emotional pain is more accurate. Seeing that photo of my ex-fiancé with the woman he cheated on me with certainly made it hard to breathe. Perhaps my heart is fine and it’s just my lungs that are broken. Either way, Todd is the worst kind of cheater. The kind that dumped me for a floozy that he met at a party while I was home with 24-hour morning sickness. Some party.

Maybe he wanted out. Later he confessed that meeting Barbie Joe had confirmed his lack of itch to be a spouse and a dad. I was only six weeks pregnant at the time. I wonder if our baby somehow knew that his father didn’t want him and decided to simply stop being.

Mom was with me when it happened. She’d been staying with me (holding the barf bucket) and helping me adjust to the fact that at 34, I would at once be a first-time mother and single mom. Not that unusual for this day and age but terrifying nonetheless.

We were out for brunch when I felt the dampness begin. I thought I’d wet myself from laughing so hard. After all, mom and I spent most of the morning talking about how Todd proposed after I took the pregnancy test, then promptly passed out five minutes later when I told him that it was positive. Todd is 6’4” and my wood floor has a sizable dent where his thick skull made impact. So much for the whole tough marine façade.

Mom and I agreed that in hindsight, we both wished he’d hit the floor just a wee bit harder, maybe get amnesia and forget that he was a self-consumed jackass, and marry me like he said he wanted. I thought he meant it when he asked. Two weeks later he attended a Navy buddy’s “wetting down” party where he would meet (and fork) the woman of his dreams, then promptly dump me.

Mom’s imitation of Todd’s face before he passed out was hysterical. Not that she actually saw it happen, but sometimes that’s better. She had me tell the head-cracking-on-floor story over and over, until we were both cackling so loud that the couple next to us were rolling their eyes, and sighing loud enough for us to hear. I suppose we ruined their lunch date with all of that pee-on-a-stick talk. But the laughing didn’t last much after the bill was paid.

Before we left the restaurant, I went to the bathroom to pee. I was spotting, but knew that was common during the first trimester. It wasn’t until Mom dropped me off at home that waves of increasingly tense cramping quickly sobered me from radiant pregnant glow to tearful, curled up mess on bed.

I called my OB. She said that if it was heavy like my period, then there was nothing she could do but help move the process along. “You could come in for a DNC, but you’re just ten weeks pregnant… I’d recommend staying home and letting your body purge itself… it’s less evasive”.

I wish that she had been a little warmer on the phone. I didn’t want to purge. I wanted to be a mother.

Pain persisted through the evening and by 8 p.m., I was staring at the remains of what would be my child, in a bloodied wad of toilet paper.

I felt a far deeper loss than I ever had before. Greater than Todd’s spineless retreat and more hopeless than I felt watching my dad close his eyes for the last time. There was no explanation for the relentless ache. As if my happily ever after was less than two inches long, but formed enough for me to see just what I would be missing.

My hands trembled, carefully blotted the remains with a damp sponge then transferring the pale pink tissue into an emptied restaurant matchbox that I’d saved from a dinner out with Dad. I curled my fingers around my lost treasure box and carried it out back to the patio garden, reluctantly burying the tiny cardboard casket beneath Provincial lavender.

I bowed my head, closed my eyes, and tried to keep the corners of my mouth from quivering long enough to focus and send up a decent prayer. In a quiet, inaudible whimper, I forced out a mournful request that I might someday have another (better) chance at love and motherhood.


Check out part 2 coming next Tuesday! UPDATE: now available to read here.

Photo by nina.jsc